'Amnesty’s most important achievements can be measured in human lives – lives saved, prisoners released, threats averted. This is the constant thread which runs through its history.'
Stephanie Grant, Amnesty’s first ever researcher
Prisoners freed. Torture stopped. Lives saved. Justice gained. Across the course of our 50 year history, we have a lot to be proud of. Here are just a few highlights from some of our key campaigns.
The Arms Trade Treaty
In April 2013, Amnesty celebrated one of our most significant victories in decades. In a UN General Assembly vote on Tuesday the 2 April we finally achieved a robust Arms Trade Treaty that will help stop the irresponsible arms transfers that cause the deaths of millions and fuel conflict and widespread human rights abuse.
This was the culmination of a 20 year campaign and an endeavour that would not have been possible without the amazing support of our donors, members and activists.
The death penalty is the ultimate cruel, inhuman and degrading punishment. It is irrevocable and can be inflicted on the innocent. It has never been shown to deter crime more effectively than other punishments. When Amnesty began our campaign, a mere 16 countries had abolished the death penalty in law or in practise – today, that number has exceeded 100.
On Friday 15 March 2013, Maryland became the latest American state pass a death penalty repeal bill. It is the 18th state to abolish the death penalty - and the sixth state in six years. We are very proud that the momentum in the USA is towards abolition, but will not stop campaigning until this cruel punishment is a thing of the past.
Individuals At Risk
We have campaigned on behalf of thousands of individuals, families and communities at risk. We achieve positive change in approximately one third of those cases. Even where we are unable to effect direct change, we hear first-hand from those we help how much our messages of solidarity and support have lifted their spirits and offered them hope.
'I received with much joy and emotion the beautiful cards and your encouraging messages of solidarity...Thank you very much'
Elmer Salvador Gutierrez Vasquez, Prisoner of Conscience, Peru
Milestones on our Journey
The Arms Trade Treaty is not the first time we have had an impact on international conventions we also played a significant role in two other big human rights milestones.
Establishment of the International Criminal Court
In 1998, The Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court (ICC) was adopted following Amnesty International’s longstanding campaign. This meant that warlords and dictators committing crimes against humanity, genocide, war crimes and crime of aggression, could be held to justice.
Convention Against Torture
In 1984, following Amnesty International’s campaign, the Convention against Torture and Other Cruel, Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment was adopted by the UN General Assembly. This meant that states were now required in International Law to take effective measures in the prevention of torture within their borders, as well as forbidding them to send people to any country where there is reason to believe that they will be tortured.
We rely on the support of donors, members and individuals and could not achieve this great work without you.